Which are the best paying industries for women, and the worst?


In light of the recent scrapped government menopausal leave trial,  it has become apparent that women continue to face barriers to progression in the UK workforce. This in combination with ongoing disparities in male and female pay, it is likely that women will seek out the best paying industries for women and those that treat them more fairly.

With this in mind, digital PR consultants Reboot studied women’s pay by industry to determine the industries that women are paid the least and most, compared to men. They did so by calculating gender pay gap differences based on the average gross hourly pay of men and women, using the latest data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

The study looked at twenty major industries. The data sheets below detail where the gender pay gap differences are the biggest as well as representation of women in these industries, female bonus data and % of females in a position of power.

Industries where women are paid the least, compared to men


Industry Pay gap (%)
Real estate activities -31.12%
Information and communication -26.07%
Education -25.82%
Financial and insurance activities -22.81%
Accommodation and food service activities -21.82%
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security -19.59%
Administrative and support service activities -19.17%
Professional, scientific and technical activities -17.19%
Agriculture, forestry and fishing -17.15%
Human health and social work activities -13.37%

More comprehensive industry descriptions see here. 

For a quarter of the industries analysed, men get paid at least 20% more than women. These are real estate activities, IT, Education, financial and insurance activities. The industry that has the biggest gender pay gap is ‘real estate activities’, whereby women receive a whopping 31.12% less than men. This sector is described as Activities of real estate investment trusts which includes buying, selling and renting own real estate.

There are great gender disparities within the IT industry since women represent just 30.31% of the workforce and there is a severe imbalance on male and female pay – with women getting paid 26.07% less than men. The education sector, whereby women represent 69.71% of the workforce, has a shocking 25.82% gender pay difference. The financial sector has a much more equal balance of female to male representation, with women representing 44.04% of the workforce, yet women are still paid a whopping 22.81% less than men. 

The best paying industries for women, compared to men

Industry Pay gap (%)
Activities of households as employers of domestic personnel +36.94%
Construction +17.68%
Mining and quarrying +9.64%

The industry with the best pay for women compared to men is Activities of households as employers of domestic personnel, with a whopping 36.94% pay increase compared to men. This industry includes jobs such as maids, cooks, gardeners and babysitters – and women represent 72.31% of the workforce. Following this is the construction, mining and quarrying industries whereby women are also paid more than men, on average.

In the construction industry, it is unsurprising that females represent just 14.66% of workers, but what is surprising is that women get paid 17.68% more than men on average. Tasmyn Brittain, who works in construction provided some comments on her experiences working in the industry:

“I chose construction as there were very few women within the industry. I wanted to be able to break that barrier. I also knew that within the construction industry there is plenty of space to move up the ranks and learn as much as possible. However, there is a slight surprise if I turn up on a building site – most men seem taken aback to see a woman on site in full PPE. I’m definitely outnumbered in the office in terms of women versus men. A lot of the women in construction, or at least my place of work tend to be in admin or HR roles, rather than physically working in the factories or on site.”  

Industries that have the worst female representation

Industry Female representation (%)
Construction 14.66%
Transportation and storage 21.54%
Mining and quarrying 25.14%
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 25.18%
Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities 26.79%
Manufacturing 27.12%
Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies 27.72%
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 28.73%
Information and communication 30.31%
Financial and insurance activities 44.04%

As well as the gender pay gap being a barrier to female success, there are major disparities in female representation across industries. In eight of the twenty industries analysed, less than 30% of the workforce are women. The industries with the worst female representation (%) are the construction, transport and storage, and mining and quarrying industries. 

Women are also losing out on the company share schemes.